Comic Book Spotlight of the Day: Astra: Lost in Space vol. 1 – December 2017 (Viz Media)

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TITLE: Astra: Lost in Space vol. 1

YEAR: December 2017 (US Release)

COMPANY: Viz Media

Story and Art by Kento Shinohara

From Kentaro Shinohara comes the sci-fi action/comedy manga known as “Astra: Lost in Space” (known in Japan as “Kanata no Astra”).

Shinohara’s last work “Sket Dance” was quite popular and ran from 2007 to 2013, earning the mangaka a “Shogakukan Manga Award” in 2010.  And now, Shinohara hopes to duplicate that success with “Astra: Lost in Space”.

With a total of four volumes published, the first volume will be published in North America courtesy of Viz Media.

The manga series centers around main protagonist, Kanata Hoshijima, a young man who wants to become a leader and assumes responsibility as a Captain for Caird High School Group B-5’s Planet Camp.

Years earlier, Kanata was part of a hike with their teacher when an unexpected storm blew over, their communication system broke and a landslide blocked their trail.  When one of the students panicked and tried to go down the mountain, their teacher went after him and died.  Kanata helped the others get rescued but since then, he has dedicated his life of wanting to become like his teacher and become a leader and making sure no one on his team suffers that same fate.

The manga begins with the group of nine preparing for the Caird High School Group B-5’s Planet Camp at Planet MCPA.  Immediately Kanata assumes the leader position and wants to be their captain, which the others wonder why this impulsive guy is assuming the leadership position and giving orders.

When the nine arrive on the planet, they see an orb of light.  As they try to run, the orb of light envelops everyone and they are sucked into space.  Surviving hanks to Kanata telling everyone to turn their helmets on.  The group manages to find an abandoned space craft, which each of them are able to get into, except Aries, who’s suit has malfunctioned.  With bravado, Kanata risks his life to save her and brings her back to the space craft, which they name “Astra”.

Fortunately, on the space craft, there are people with abilities:

  • Kanata Hoshijima – Athletic, known for his decathalon skills but wants to be a better leader but often makes impulsive decisions.
  • Aries Spring – Bubblehead, naive but has a photographic memory.
  • Zack Walker – The genius prodigy who has a pilot license and pilots the Astra.  His father is a scientist.
  • Quitterie Raffaelli – Spoiled, opinionated and came from a wealthy family.  Doesn’t have any friends and must take care of her adopted sister, Funicia.  Wants to become a doctor, so has medical experience.  Grew up with Zack Walker.
  • Funicia – She was taken in by Quitterie’s mother and adopted as part of the family when her mother passed away.  She adores her older step-sister, despite Quitterie not reciprocating her feelings.  She has a dog puppet, who tends to say things bluntly.
  • Charce – Experience with science, plants and animals and is the guy that often flirts with the girls.
  • Luca Esposito – Loves arts and crafts and his parents are politicians, but Luca wants to go into art school.
  • Yun-hua – The well-endowed quiet member.
  • Ulgar – Keeps to himself and rubs people the wrong way.  He appears to be quite intelligent.

Thanks to Zack, he is able to find out that they are 5,012 light years away from where they were.    With no rescue possible, using their ship, the only way of survival, especially with not enough food to feed everyone is to travel to every possibly planet that has conditions suitable for trying to obtain food and water.  And Zack’s theory is there are five planets in total that they can travel to forage for water and supplies.  While traveling weeks with little food and water to get them to each planet.

But it’s a long, risky adventure that Kanata and the others must endure to survive.  And now, they must make their first trip to the first planet.

For those who enjoy sci-fi films such as “Space Quest” or even “Star Trek” can find “Astra: Lost in Space” as entertaining, sci-fi fun.

A storyline about a group of students who are going to space camp but once they arrived, are enveloped by a ball of light which transports them all 5,012 light years away. They have no allies, no rescue and are literally out in space alone with a spacecraft that is well-fueled but not enough water or food to keep them all fed.

In order to survive is by traveling to various planets, using their skills and working together as a team in order to survive.

But what troubles are along the way and because their personalities are different, can they work as a team?

The first volume like many other manga that features many characters, is more of a starting point to introduce characters and highlight their strengths and also weaknesses. But it also showcases the trouble that these characters must undergo and the importance of working as a team.

While no one believes in Kanata’s leadership at first, they start to see how he’s willing to sacrifice his life for them and it’s a courage that many of them don’t have. Meanwhile, others have other skills that will be important in their quest to get back home.

But there is a problem and that is Zack has found someone is trying to sabotage their return back home. One of them is purposely sabotaging them and who is responsible?

Featuring a wonderful story with solid character development for several characters but also cool artwork, Kenta Shinohara’s “Astra: Lost in Space” was no doubt a fun and entertaining manga to read and I can’t wait to read more volumes.

So for now, from this first volume alone, I definitely recommend “Astra: Lost in Space”!


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